The Internet isn’t going to break… yet.

So this morning I went through my usual list of suspects to find out what’s going on, and I came across this.

Some of the comments from the various industry players I expect, after all, it is in no-one’s interest to say the Internet is going to break. Nor is it true. It may get a lot slower, but it will still work.

As is pointed out:

I thought that most ISPs were firmly set against charging content owners to stop their pipes filling up. They were using the convincing logic that their subscribers would feel that the ISP has already charged once for this content to be delivered via the monthly broadband subscription fee.

Which is true, no-one charges more if you want to watch TV over your ADSL, even though you will undoubtedly use more bandwidth, which is potentially passed on as cost to the ISP as part of the agreement for their supplier.

This make me wonder, what is going to motivate the ISPs to upgrade their lines when they can’t tap into the content revenue stream. After all why upgrade your wires at cost when you aren’t getting anything for it ? Is this all dependent on the idea that equipment gets cheaper and therefore the costs are the same ? This assumes that installation and operation is zero-cost, which is not true.

It’s hard to see a parallel with other business models. For example the PC (Macs are a similar story but bear with me here) you are reading this on. The main drivers for upgrade are in the software – whether that is the operating system, games, development tools. However the costs are passed onto the consumer by them buying new hardware, software etc. In other words, spending money on a fairly regular basis to “keep” current. This is helped by limiting the amount of hardware available at any time, and also by having a fairly short lifetime.

However for the lifetime of your PC, while the bandwidth requirements have gone up, your Internet connection has stayed largely the same. The equipment on either side of the wires, at your PC, and the service Providers you use – such as Google, bbc.co.uk, amazon.com – has been upgraded and improved. The wires have not. Why ? Because so far there are 3 sets of people in this equation, the consumer, the service provider, and the ISP. Out of all this, the ISP gets “nothing”, as the service provider is taking sales from the customer. Unless this changes there will always be arguments for traffic shaping.

Traffic shaping isn’t new, it is one of the component parts of IMS, which has been designed by the 3GPP. This is a system devised primarily by the Telcos in order to allow them to define the boundaries of their networks for service provision and billing purposes amongst other things.

Of course there are potential technologies that can be deployed right now without needing “fibre to the home”. See if you can persuade your local cable provider to give you a DOCSIS 3.0 based link… for a 100Mbits connection 🙂

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